Saturday, November 14, 2009

A beautiful soul

I am a dreamer. God made me a dreamer, and when I dream, I feel His pleasure. I long for transcendence so strongly that it frequently overwhelms me. I long to revel in the deep things of God—of present beauty, of ultimate reality, and of future glory.

But there are events in our lives that cause us to stumble, to break, and to focus on the storm rather than on the Master. We sometimes feel betrayed and abandoned by others, and even by God. And in the crucible of those moments, when our usually guarded worldviews are forced wide open, we allow fears, doubts, anger, and cynicism to creep in, even in small doses, and those feelings become hard to kill.

In those times of the dark night of the soul, we too often make subtle vows to ourselves that we won't ever be hurt those ways again. We build walls to make sure we stay protected, and create venues to avoid the pain.

But there is a better way.

These are the moments that become the hinges upon which our lives take major turns. These are the empty days and sleepless nights that count, despite how much they feel like a waste. These are the moments when we choose to seize the day, to seize the beauty, and to seize what truly matters.

A beautiful soul. I wonder what it takes to be a beautiful soul.

We all have things that weigh us down, but in the midst of our burdens, a transcendent mindset beckons us, one which the world cannot comprehend. Not all of us will choose it, and not all of us can even understand it yet, including me. But we can take small steps. We can admit we are not where we need to be, and purpose where our lives are headed. We can choose to truly be people of faith.

We tend to live by the notion that as life seems more trustworthy, we will be able to take more risks, and conversely, that if life gets less trustworthy, we will protect ourselves and take fewer risks. But what would be necessary for our hearts to take those risks even when life feels unsafe?

There is a kind of heart that learns to truly trust God for real, no matter what. There are eyes that see past today to eternity. There is a brokenness that embraces surrender like never before.

One of the most crucial choices we will make in life is vulnerability. Being open to the possibility of woundedness, disappointment, and even treachery, yet remaining willing to pursue life's beauty.

When we walk through dark valleys, we have the opportunity to take some terrifying emotional and spiritual risks which expose us to both the greatest joys and the deepest pains possible in this life. But without making the choice to be vulnerable, to seize the beauty of God and of life no matter what comes our way, we are only half alive.

C.S Lewis wrote that "Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness . . . we shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it."

In that mindset, we choose to keep holding on, to believe that dawn is coming. We embrace brokenness, and embrace it God's way. We know that He is using the trials of life to challenge our hearts, to prove us, and to help us surrender our wills—not to avoid pain. God, do whatever it takes to make us holy, no matter what the cost, and teach us to rejoice in whatever that cost may be.

Life is about intimacy and beauty, and will be for all eternity. It's what God, the Gospel, heaven, and humanity are all about. We embrace the beauty. We pursue it, revel in it, and dive into it with all our hearts.

God, You have woven beauty and majesty everywhere. Even in the darkest hours, we have abundant reason to stand in awe of You, in amazement at what You have created, and in gratitude for what You have done and are still doing. You delight to give Your children good gifts. You cannot but bless Your Son's beloved Bride.
We drink deeply from the fountain of delights.

A beautiful soul. I wonder what it takes to be a beautiful soul.

We choose to be carefree, unworried, and untroubled. We choose to cast our cares on the Lord, because He cares for us. We choose to be resolute, confident, cheerful, joyous, and lighthearted. We choose optimism. We play the Glad Game and really mean it.

We purposefully choose to not be disillusioned. We reject cynicism. We sanctify our imaginations. We resist the tendency to take shortcuts and the easy way out. We choose the way of wisdom.

We choose to believe that the presence of pain does not equate in any way to the absence of God and does not imply His displeasure. God allows all His children to go through dark valleys to teach them trust and obedience.

We choose to believe that the wilderness may, indeed, be the best place for God to find us. Empty of all pride, success, and confidence in our own strength, we turn to God, admitting that we cannot enter the Promised Land without Him, and that in truth, He—not our supposed dreams and plans—is the Promised Land.

We choose to believe that everything God had made, and everything God does, is good, and that His design is always right. He is the sovereign, brilliant Master Designer. He never makes mistakes of any kind, and He constantly takes our lives—including our wounds and even our mistakes—and turns them into glory.

Oh, God, may the depths of me collide with the depths of You! May I be transformed through and through, from the inside out.

We choose to believe that God cannot help but bless us. He blesses us constantly, whether we realize it not. He constantly works things together for our good, and will only ever bless those who are His. What could He do that would not ultimately be a blessing, even if it currently feels like a loss or a disappointment? Even His discipline is a blessing, because in teaching us to give up something, He is focusing us on His will, our character, His glory, and our good.

We choose to believe that God loves to celebrate. God delights to invite His family to a feast He has prepared. He is the King who serves, the Friend who prepares a table before us, the Father who will throw the most lavish wedding in history, the Master who even washes our feet as we sit down to have Him share His bread with us. In that spirit, we offer our lives as a constant celebration, a continual feast, a neverending expression of joy. We choose to be carefree because our hearts' deepest desires were already met at the Cross of Christ. The Lord is our Shepherd, and so we lack nothing.

We choose to embrace the paradoxes. We know that there is beauty beyond comprehension in the mysteries, in not knowing all the answers yet running to the One who does, and in being children with endless questions yet belonging to the faithful, trustworthy Father. We question for a short time, but we do not let our questions hold us back from wonder, amazement, and worship. We fall on our knees and stare and laugh. We stand confidently, and walk without fear, and dance for Him, whether He answers all our questions or not.

We choose to not let anything draw us away from the simplicity of our love for Jesus and our devotion to Him.

We believe that God is on our side and He does not write any truly sad endings. The Lord will be faithful to complete what He started in us. God is the Master Artist, and we are unfinished portraits. God will make us glorious in the end. Jesus, paint my life!

Lord, we have set our sails as best as we know, in the direction of Your will, so far as we understand it. Please fill our sails with Your wind and guide and redirect us where You will.

We hold nothing back. No reservations. No separate stash for ourselves. It all belongs to You. Our only goal is to be pleasing to You, our Master.

We bow our knees to You with tears of joy and gratitude that we no longer bow to sin and death. We do not argue with doors You open or shut. We are soldiers committed to Your task. We are children dedicated to the honor of Your name.

We are Your followers, forever grateful for Your opening our eyes to see, and forever ready to do Your bidding, so that others may see what great things You have done for us.

You alone are the One worthy to direct our lives. You are the only One we can truly trust to write the very best story of our lives. You alone call the shots in our lives, and for that we are eternally and joyfully indebted.

Lord, make our lives a song. Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You, and may they pour out as praise to You. Write the lyrics of our lives, and let them be worship to You. Whether the songs sound upbeat, sad, calm, or fearful, let us take those songs and offer them up, imperfect though our offerings may be. Rewrite the songs of our lives the way You choose, and we will learn the tune and sing it back to You with a grateful heart.

Lord, I know what it will take to be a beautiful soul. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.
Come what may; to You be the glory.

3 comments:

  1. Tim:
    This is just the Word I needed to hear today!
    How often my cynical heart aches, and I think all is lost because we are all such rotten sinners- even the most saintly among us. Even in my very best moment, I am still warped with wrong motives hid even from myself.
    I thank you for keeping your ear so close to the mouth of God and sharing what you hear.
    Keeping the alignment of faith in our hearts, while they are bruised and broken is difficult.
    Finding a balance between being wisely careful, and open and vulnerable is a dance for sure that I often mis-step.
    The thing today I was dwelling on is the Faithfulness of God, that sees so far beyond a mood that passes, and never ever lets go.
    That beautiful soul I want, and the ego are in battle. To let others see my guts on the sidewalk- that may be beautifully painful. To let others watch "it" never quite work out and see grace displayed, that is how He uses disappointment.
    I was also dwelling on Grace yesterday- and how it is a very sweet word to some, but with power equal to nothing else, it is my Life in Jesus. Without it, there would be no Hope.
    I know that whatever God is doing in my life, and yours, is very good. Whatever it is. Knowing it is all in His hand, and we can rest as we labor, is something worth fighting for.
    I love the word picture of the sail- setting it in the direction we perceive He wants us to go and then being open to the Wind of the Spirit to blow us where He wills. Sounds simple. It is were not for my confusion about my own will, and sorting through what is my choice, and what is God's will.
    There is enough there to be intrigued for a life time of mystery.
    Keep up the treasure hunt!
    May God remove my fears, and replace it with faith in Him, and may my fear be only awe of Him.
    Thanks for writing Tim!

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  2. it's definitely about embracing the paradoxes. you summed up my heart pretty well with this post.

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  3. thanks for sharing this link with me and my readers. it was good reading.
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